Breaking: Supreme Court, with Two Dissents, Stays Order to Redraw Congressional Districts After Lower Court Finding of a Partisan Gerrymander

This just in:

The application for stay presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted, and it is ordered that the order of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, case Nos. 1:16-CV-1026 and 1:16-CV1164, entered January 9, 2018, is stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of an appeal in this Court. Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor would deny the application for stay.

This is what I expected, and is consistent with how the Court has been treating emergency motions in redistricting and voting cases (see my: The Supreme Court is in No Hurry to Protect Voters from GerrymanderingWashington Post (Post Everything), June 28, 2017).

What this means is that it is very unlikely that even if the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court that this is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, there will be time to consider the issue in time for the 2018 elections. This is especially true because the Court did not expedite things in this order, and it will take a few months before the Court decides whether to hear the case, and that means either a remand after the other partisan gerrymandering cases are decided this term or setting the case for argument (almost certainly next term).

As I’ve said, on the merits North Carolina’s gerrymandering is the most brazen and egregious (they essentially admitted to the practice, but argue the practice of drawing districts for maximum partisan advantage is perfectly legal). The Justices know that if they give the green light to partisan gerrymandering going forward, we will see more redistricting that looks like North Carolina’s.

[This post has been updated.]

 

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